Top Stories

Jokic, Canada’s Murray lead Nuggets past Heat in Game 1 of NBA Finals

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets faced some questions in their first NBA Finals, and the answers came in resounding fashion.

No, a week and a half off didn’t hurt them.

And no, the NBA’s biggest stage isn’t too big either.

Jokic had a triple-double in his rookie debut, Jamal Murray scored 26 points and the Nuggets had little trouble en route to a 104-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 on Thursday night.

Murray, which is an Ont. The Kitchener product scored 25 or more points for the sixth consecutive game. He also had 10 assists.

“I think that’s the beauty of this team,” Murray said. “We have so many different weapons and so many different looks. You have to keep an eye on everyone… Free flow and it’s a lot of fun.”

So far in these playoffs, the Heat are 3-0 in openers, all on the road, but Denver is still undefeated at home. The winners of Game 1 go on to win the title in the finals nearly 70 percent of the time.

Advantage, Nuggets.

“That was one of my last messages to the group before our game,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I reminded our group, in case they didn’t know, that Miami went into Milwaukee and won Game 1. They went into the New York Garden and won Game 1. They won Game 1 in Boston. So we didn’t win. I want them to come here monitoring the series in our court.”

The selector was in control. The two-time NBA MVP finished with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who waited 47 years to reach the Finals, and did not disappoint.

“The most important thing is to win the game,” Jokic said after his ninth triple-double of this year’s playoffs, his sixth in his last seven games. “I try to win the game in every way.”

Aaron Gordon added 16 points and Michael Porter Jr. had 14 for Denver, which trailed all 34 seconds and eventually led by 24.

Bam Adebayo finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, which shot 41 percent for the game, including 33 percent from three-point range. Gabe Vincent scored 19, Haywood Highsmith scored 18, and Jimmy Butler scored 13 for the visitors.

Miami went 2-for-2 from the foul line on a night unlike any in NBA playoff history.

It tied the record for fewest free throws made in a playoff game ever, broke the record for fewest attempts from the line in a playoff game (the previous record was three), and set NBA Finals records for fewest free throws made and made. The Los Angeles Lakers had the previous mark there, going three for five from the line on May 26, 1983 against Philadelphia.

“We’ve got to attack the rim more, myself included,” Butler said.

Adebayo added, tongue firmly in cheek. “We made history”

Game 2 is in Denver on Sunday night.

Miami opened the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 84-63 to begin the final period at 84-74. Haight actually pulled within nine on Highsmith’s three-pointer with 2:34 left, but it wasn’t any closer and there wasn’t much in the way.

“It’s a long streak,” Vincent said. “Four wins from first. Adjustments will be made. And we will learn from this defeat.”

Men's basketball screams hanging from the rim with both hands as the ball drops through the net while opposing players watch from below.
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray dunks during the first half of Game 1 Thursday night in Denver. (Kyle Terada – Pool/Getty Images)

“we were ready”

Malone gave his team a pop quiz on Thursday morning, filming their questions about the game plan and what needed to be done in the most important game in franchise history to date.

They had all the answers back then. They all had game time. They were the team with the least NBA Finals experience, only two players who had been to the title game before, and yet they looked at home in Game 1 in front of a home crowd.

“We were ready,” Denver guard Bruce Brown said.

Jokic became the second player in the last 25 years, LeBron James the other, in 2017, to have 10 assists at halftime of a Finals game. He had 10 points and 10 assists at halftime, with Denver leading 59-42 after the first two quarters and Jokic making just three shots.

“I don’t need to hit, and I know I don’t need to score to affect the game,” Jokic said.

Meanwhile, the Heat just couldn’t shoot. In general. Or at least until Denver fell too far ahead to catch up.

Caleb Martin, who narrowly missed out on the Eastern Conference Finals MVP award, was 1-for-7. And Max Struss was 0-for-10, 0-for-9 on 3-pointers, becoming just the second player in the last 45 years to hit that many shots in a Finals game.

The other, somewhat surprisingly. Ray Allen, the former Heat Finals hero who went 0-for-13 for Boston against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010.

“I haven’t even looked at the box score yet, but like I said, I think the attitude, the effort was more appropriate in the second half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But it’s not enough. It has to be for a complete game and you also have to make some plays when you get beat.”

#Jokic #Canadas #Murray #lead #Nuggets #Heat #Game #NBA #Finals

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button